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Don’t Be So Shocked That People Still Want Marriage and Children

Washington Examiner

May 24, 2023

Four writers at Curbed, the millennial-run, New York-centric real estate site, undertook an ambitious project. To put a price tag on living in New York, they asked young people to describe their ideal life and then tried to calculate how much it would cost.

“We decided to put a price tag on the dream lives of a wide range of New Yorkers, all 30 and under and childless.”

This involved surveying a large group and then deeply interviewing a small subset. The project is interesting, and you can check it out here. Just as interesting as their findings was what surprised these four writers, Rachel Sugar, Jack Denton, Laura Thompson, and Adriane Quinlan:

We were surprised by how many people fantasize about a life with a partner and kids in brownstone Brooklyn — we expected more to plan lives as single artists or to build households of friends and throuples. We expected a few more to actually want to live in Manhattan. Instead, we heard a craving for high-end domesticity; so many people told us they wanted to be married with ‘between one and two kids,’ a shocking number said they wanted three or more, and nearly everyone said they wanted to own their homes.

Yes, they expected lots of “throuples” and people who wanted to live the rest of their lives alone, were surprised at how many wanted a family, and were “shocked” that lots of people wanted three or more children? That tells us something about the bubble the liberal news media live in.

The standard conservative critique is that the liberal, college-educated, New York professionals are out of touch with the working class, with conservatives, or with Middle America. This article shows something more interesting: They are out of touch even with their own neighbors and fellow urban liberals.

Marriage and family are natural desires. More specifically, raising children within a loving, monogamous, committed relationship is what most people want. Single mothers living together for support and camaraderie are a plan B, not an ideal life.

This surprises some journalists because journalists get high on their own supply.

When you and your friends write enough articles about “throuples” and “mommunes” and place enough op-eds about how marriage is outdated or worse, you begin to believe that all this stuff is normal and that it’s probably where your readers are. This is a misunderstanding of the prestige media’s relationship with their readership.

The “throuples” stories are interesting and get clicks precisely because they’re weird, not because these stories are articulating the desires of all their readers.

Major outlets have many excellent writers on marriage, parenthood, and family, and so this isn’t an attack on the media as a whole. And these Curbed writers did themselves and their readers a service by actually going out, asking questions, and learning something new about the people they live among.